Monday, October 31, 2011

UN-GO: Copycat! Copycat!

Currently finished: Episode 3

The first episode it wasn't very clear, but the next two episodes clearly indicated that this is literally a complete copy of the concept of Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro: this supernatural creature is attached to the main character of the story who likes to solve puzzle. Seriously, they didn't even bother to try to make it look different aside from using a different background. Very unoriginal. My only hope at this moment is the story would creatively make use of its background to come up with something a bit more original...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mawaru Pengiundrum: ...

Currently finished: Episode 15

A little late, but I caught up to episode 15. All I want to say is

Monday, October 24, 2011

[Dropped] Maken-Ki: Tasteless, Tasteless, Tasteless

Finished: Episode 3

This, is just plain tasteless. It's at par with High School of the Dead on the level of tastelessly inappropriate insertion of fan service. The worst of all, unlike series such as Aika R-16, or Seikon no Qwaser, where fan service actually adds amusement value, it's so poorly done here, instead of making it more amusing to watch, it disrupts the flow of the story and all you see a bags of meat swinging all over the place. I can't image anybody other than a horny 12-year old (or somebody who's mentally a horny 12-year old) would like this. Terrible.

Final Score: 33

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chihayafuru: Not Selling Short

Currently finished: Episode 3

In a comment danchou posted earlier in response to my initial impression on Chihayafuru, he called me "selling this series short" because I only initial scored it a 79. I did so because for the most part, it reminded me too much of a typical sports anime opening episode without much indication on whether it's going to branch out. But after the two follow-up episodes, I realized it's not really going down the sports anime's route, rather, a side drama route much like Shion no Ou (which by the way is one great anime about shougi) where the main theme is merely the glue to tie the drama together.

So, if it pleases you, danchou, yes, you are right, I was "selling it short" when based on only one episode. The follow up episodes have changed my opinions significantly. As it is right now, I would give it a

Second look score: 87

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai: The Usual Twist

Currently finished: Episode 3

Like Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, in my opinion this series goes slightly too heavy on the fan service side, I think mostly has something to do with the original art works the story is based upon. But, unlike other fan service heavy series such as High School of the Dead, the fan service here doesn't really feel out of place. On top of that, they're really careful about only making it "heavy" without crossing the line over to the side of "excessive". That, is something I could appreciate.

Towards the end of the episode 3, it threw out a little twist that I didn't see it coming, which in my opinion is going to make this story much more interesting than it originally presented itself to be. But, if you think about it, this is really one of the most commonly used plot device for connecting certain people within a story. But even so, it still creates a very interesting situation that future plot could build upon.

Guilty Crown: Exciting, But...

Currently finished: Episode 2

The opening episode is interesting, this second episode is exciting. However, there are some symptoms showed up here in the second episode that concerns me a bit: the lack of originality. Beyond all the excitement in mecha fighting and laser shooting, it felt like a clone of Code Geass to the very tiny details. I think it's gonna be really difficult for most people to overlook that given the high profile status of Code Geass. At this point, I can only hope they'll do something drastic to detach themselves from it.

On a side note, if you haven't noticed, as far as voice goes, Tsugumi

= = =

Saturday, October 22, 2011

[Movie] Karigurashi no Arrietty

This is the latest film produced by studio Ghibli. It's a very pretty, very very pretty looking movie. It has the usual Ghibli touchs including the emotion swings and the blatant undertone about the environments.

It's quite enjoyable. But, that's about it. 

Personally, I was never a big fan of studio Ghibli's film. Reason being that even though each of them comes with a somewhat different theme, they more or less all have the same core. Basically, if you have seen one, you more or less have seen them all. Sure they're all pretty (and getting prettier dare I say) and got all the sad moments designed to make you cry and all, but, that's about all there is to it. They just don't seem to have much of anything beyond that. I have never come out of a studio Ghibli movie feeling "Wow, that was something!". As good as they all looked, there's just never a long lasting impression. It's like they have one deck of cards with movie elements, and every time they're trying to make a new movie, they simply shuffle them all and read them off to create a plot flow.

Anyway, Karigurashi no Arrietty is a good and interesting movie, but it's far from a great movie. If you want to see a pretty movie, it definitely won't disappoint you. But if you want to see something great, well, I think it falls quite a bit short.

Evil Cat's Score: 81

Friday, October 21, 2011

Danchou's Top 5 Pick of October 2011

As the Evil Cat has said, these last few seasons have been water to a rather dehydrated anime fan. Light shown to a person stuck in a Platonic cave. Even, dare I say it, an open bar to a college student! Regardless, I think I'll have a similar list to the Evil Cat's, but there will be some slight adjustments.

Fate/Zero: After a slightly disappointing adaptation of the excellent video novel labeled as Fate Stay/Night, TypeMoon is attempting to up what has been done with the first series. Not saying the first anime was bad, it just deviated so far from the source material, it left many wanting more. Regardless, this series is doing a good job showing the movements of all the different parties, building up well known characters of myth and history, and showing how so many well constructed schemes are slowly working towards one another. It started out quite slowly but seems to be gaining some steam. Anyways, if you are a fan of the series, Typemoon, the VN, or even just famous historical/mythical figures being used in zany (yes, zany) ways with cool powers, this is definitely going to end up high on your list. Since I fall into all of those categories, I'm hooked.
This series, with the exception of possibly Guilty Crown, has been the biggest surprise of the season for me. However, saying that, it also means that it has the biggest chance of letting me down. The first episode managed to portray many interesting looking characters, the possibility of some intriguing politics being played out, and what is needed for a mystery/detective series to go far. That being said, it could easily fall into some of the traps shows like Psychic Detective Yakumo did. Anyways, it has enough hope to make it on my list.
Guilty Crown:
This series had possibly the best directing of any series so far this season. The way the song was integrated into the episode was reminiscent of Star Drive (yes, that crazy show), the timing like the mixed action and strategy of Code Geass, and the pacing of Code Geass' first episodes as well. Drawn along for the ride, dazzled by the singing, and interested by the mixture of mecha, magic, and politics, you can count me in. I know I haven't said it enough, but this has the potential to be another Code Geass. Oh, yeah.... Code Geass.
Shakugan no Shana III:
Shakugan no Shana was the first series I ever watched subbed. I know I'm a fanboy of this title because of it. But, I would like to say that, despite this, I am quite reasonable in claiming that it deserves a spot in my top 5. This is because of the mystery between the seasons, the pseudo-political tensions that are sure to rise, and the pacing change. Obviously, a LOT happened between the seasons that needs to be explained. This mystery is one of the driving factors for the show thus far. Also, the new... erm... alignments will surely bring about a new dynamic that the show has left untouched for much of the earlier seasons. Finally, the pacing is completely different from either of the other seasons. Instead of throwing people into the fire, then easing up a little to explain things, this season is starting by explaining all the turmoil brewing throughout the world, showing how some of the characters are feeling and then going from there.
Mirai Nikki:
Although slightly saddened by the pacing of the first season, this series also has potential to go far. A wide range of characters, a good setting, and an interesting look at the psychological factors of many of the characters bodes well for this show. This, however, is definitely last on my list of 5 because of the pacing of the second episode. It wasn't as well done as the first and revealed WAYYY too much for the second episode of a long series. That being said, it still has hope.

There are a few honorable mentions on my list, just as the Evil Cat had on his. This would be made of
Ben-To, Bakuman 2, and Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai!!. Bakuman and Ben-To are the two of these closet to making the top 5 (especially if Bakuman 2 is as good as 1), but they weren't quite there. Last Exile may eventually make the list as well, but, unfortunately, I have yet to watch it. Anyways, happy watching everyone, and I hope I can get some good comments :3

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Horizon on the Middle of Nowhere: Huh?

Currently finished: Episode 3

Can someone tell me what's going on here? Three episodes in, I still have not a clue what's going on. Sure I got some localized relationship charts going, but as far as the big picture goes, I'm still not getting any. It's in a way somewhat similar to Chrome Shelled Regios, except by episode three, I've already gotten a pretty firm grasp what's happening, and what's about to happen. Here, things are just flying over my head left and right and I'm just not connecting any dots anywhere, period.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Evil Cat's Top 5 Pick for October 2011

After such a long drought, recent seasons indicate that business (well, anime business that is) is booming again. Take this season for example, instead of having too few series to choose from, I have to figure out which ones I want to leave out of my top 5. Come to think of it, I haven't have to ponder over that question since January 2010.

My top 5 picks for October 2011 are:

Fate/Zero so far everything I'm seeing from this series is solid. Grant it that it's an established franchise with some very good series from the past, it has somewhat of an unfair advantage because of the exposures it had. But, even if this is the first time you heard about the its name, you'd probably still going to be impressed by what it has done.

Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing As the first real series (Nyanpire is not a real series) after GONZO re-emerged from bankruptcy, this story has a very explosive start. I think if GONZO is returning to the innovative storytelling that made them famous at first place, this is definitely one of the series to watch.

Mirai Nikki This, in my opinion, is definitely by far the best series of this season. The story is exciting and the characters are interesting. My only concern right now is that so far the character Yuki feels very much like Ganta from Deadman Wonderland. They think alike and they act alike. At some point Ganta turns into a completely crybaby and ruins the whole show. I just hope Yuki doesn't do the same.

UN-GO For the most part, I'm not exactly sure where this show is heading just yet, but, I'm very intrigued by what I've seen so far. There's some weird undertone in the story I haven't had a firm grasp on just yet, but it's all for the better.

Ben-to This, I have to say is the biggest surprise for me among all the new series from this season. It manages to mix a nearly perfect blend of subtlety and straight-faced silliness with some tropes that are designed to make fun of brawling animes such as Ikkitousen or Tenjou Tenge to form a one of kind comedy.

There are also a couple of other series that if the competition isn't so intense, would totally made into the top 5 as well: Shakugan no Shana III, Bakuman 2, Guilty Crown, and Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai!!. It's actually pains me to leave them out of my top 5 because they all had a solid opening episodes. However, Shana III isn't captive enough in its opening run; Bakuman 2 is a slow starter; Guilty Crown doesn't feel very original; and Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai!! is just slightly excessive on the fan service part. These, ultimately made my top 5 picks win over these guys.

I'm sure my co-host, danchou probably would post his top 5 pick soon as well. We'll see if he has any different opinions. ^_^

Monday, October 17, 2011

[New October 2011] Sengoku Paradise Kiwami

Genres: Comedy
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: Warring period Japan, again.

First impression score: -- --

Personal comments: It's a 3-minute episode short short comedy based on...heroes from warring period Japan, again.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mawaru Penguindrum: Spinning Out Of Control

Currently finished: Episode 14

For the last 6 episodes or so, my impression about this series is "Holy crap this is getting out of control!". Then I saw the latest episode (14), my impression is "HOLY CRAP THIS IS REALLY GETTING OUT OF CONTROL!!!"

After the twists and turns it took lately, it seems that the story finally entered a steady development phase, where instead of putting pieces on the chessboard, we'll see some movements on the chessboard. Just as I was focusing forward trying to figure the goal ahead, it pops out a curve ball and hit me right in the face. If I had any doubt this story is going to keep popping out stuff that would surprise me over and over until it's over, it's no longer there. From this point on I'm just getting ready to be surprised every time I tune into it.

C³: The Familiar Vibes

You know what this most recent episode's development reminds me of? Kore wa Zombie Desu ka. Not in a literal sense, but it's definitely giving out the same vibes. Maybe it's the quick shift from nonsense comedies to serious actions to some even more serious psycho showdown; maybe it's the atmosphere of the fight it creates; or maybe it's the randomness and mysterious nature of the story. Either way, this has just gotten very interesting.

[New October 2011] Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam

Genres: Fantasy / Action
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: A new story from the Last Exile universe.     

First impression score: 92 - Exciting

Familiar voices: Aoi Yuuki (悠木碧) as Giselle. She's probably best know as "the other" famous loli voice, the voice behind the two recent "loli vampires", Princess Mina from Dance in the Vampire Bund and Sunako from Shiki, and the most recently as Victorique from GOSICK. Aki Toyosaki (豊崎愛生) as Fam. With that much playfulness in the voice, its pretty easy to recognize her as Yui from K-ON!.

Personal comments: Compare to the original Last Exile, this opening episode is a much faster paced and way less cryptic. I think GONZO Finally is taking a step towards the right direction by producing quality anime again.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

[New October 2011] UN-GO

Watch online:
Genres: Drama / Mystery
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: When murder occurs, Yuuki and his companion Inga is on the case.    

First impression score: 88 - Weird But Interesting

Familiar voices: I didn't recognize it first time through, but Inga's voice is done by Aki Toyosaki (豊崎愛生), the voice of Yui from K-ON!.

Personal comments: The build of this opening episode reminds me much of Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro, that too is a weird detective story. But being an Noitamina anime, nothing can be "too weird"--that's the programming block brought us [C], Mononoke and The Tatami Galaxy. At first glance, the background of the story is modern day Japan. However, as the case being investigated, it presents a picture of a society that is much different than today's world. So far it's giving me a good vibe, a vibe that is actually felt somewhat similar to Eden of the East (which by the way is also a Noitamina anime), if that means anything to you.

[New October 2011] Ben-to

Daily Grocery Store Bento Brawl

Genres: Drama / Action / Comedy
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: A dude enters a boarding high school where all students are responsible for their own meal. He soon finds out it takes a brawl to get half-priced bentos at local grocery store.

First impression score: 91 - Action Packed Outrageously Ridiculous Straight-faced Comedy

Personal comments: Remember how ridiculous yet brilliantly refreshing it felt when we first encountered Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu? I am getting the exactly same vibe from this new outrageously ridiculous action packed straight-faced comedy. This is definitely the best comedy I've seen so far from this season. It's so subtle, yet outrageously ridiculous. If they keep it up, I'm positive this is going to come out to be the comedy of the season.

[New October 2011] Mashiro-iro Symphony

Genres: Gal-game / Drama / Harem
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: A co-ed school is merging with an all girl school. At the beginning of the semester, a dude meets many girls...

First impression score: 72 - Typical

Personal comments: I think there is a quota each season to gal-game based anime each season. So far, it seems to be a very typical gal-game anime and there seems to be nothing special about it. When you've seen one gal game anime, you've seen all gal game anime, more or less. I'm probably gonna just give it another episode or so then drop it as I don't think there's a need for me to wasting my time on a typical gal game anime.

[New October 2011] Guilty Crown

Genres: Action / Drama / SciFi
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: In the future, the world was threatened by apocalyptic virus outbreak, GHQ took control of Japan. One day Ouma ran into a girl who is being chased by GHQ.

First impression score: 89 - Very Interesting

Personal comments: I think this is one of my most anticipated new series from this season. For one, I really do like its art work. But that alone wouldn't be enough to make it a good anime. The story, in my opinion isn't anything very original, but, there's potential.

[New October 2011] Maken-Ki

Genres: Harem / Ecchi / Action
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: A dude just came from an all-boy junior high school to a regular high school, all the sudden, he is caught in the middle of three girls.

First impression score: 66 - Boobies and Panties

Personal comments: Clearly, to fill the quota, somebody has to release a harem-ecchi anime this season. Almost all girls has boobs about the size of their head and the story didn't bother to waste any time in constructing the harem three deep within the first episode. This, may just be the pointless ecchi anime of the season.

[New October 2011] Mirai Nikki

Genres: Action / Drama / Mystery
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: Some dude who writes everything in his phone in forms of diary suddenly starts to get his diary from future on his phone. Then he's told that he has been chosen to be in a survival game where losing means death.

First impression score: 93 - Intense and Mysterious

Personal comments: This is definitely by far the best series I've seen from this season. I felt a very similar ring here as Deadman Wonderland gave me early on (when it was still good). If it keeps up with it, and not to turn to the suck like Deadman Wonderland did, I think this may well come out as anime of the season. Oh, and you so totally need to watch the part after the ending credit. That's some fun comic relief.

p.s. Since my friend danchou is joining force in this blog, we'll try to mark the authorship so it doesn't look like someone is constantly flip-flopping on their opinions. ^_^

Friday, October 14, 2011

[New October 2011] Shakugan no Shana III

Japanese title: 灼眼のシャナIII
Genres: Comedy / Action/ Shounen
I've watched: 2 episode

Summary: So, Shakugan no Shana is back for all its fans. It seems to have shifted gears in between the two season. I think they'll go on to explain more of what happened, but, even with out that, the series seems to be picking up steam.

First impression score: 92 - Slower, but more intense

Personal comments: Well, this is MY first post on this blog, so I figured I would save it for the continuation of one of my favorite titles. Yes, this is not the EvilCat, but his cohort, danchou. Regardless, Shana is one of my favorite series of all time (and the first series I ever watched subbed), so it hold a special place in my heart. Personally, I loved the first two seasons, but I realize that there are people out there that didn't. Anyways, I think the way the first two episodes have gone could easily fix many of their complaints. Either way, I think this will be a great way to end the series.

Intro: Well, I guess I can do an short intro, too. I'm a senior in college, currently applying for law school, so I'm not sure how often I'll really be posting... but I should get a few in before the end of the season. Anyways, I am a friend (RL) of the EvilCat, and will be aiding him from time to time over the next few months. Anyways, please be gentle :3

[New October 2011] Persona 4

Watch online:
Genres: Action / Drama / Mystery
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: Some dude moved from a big city to a small town due to his parents' work. One day, he found out that he can go inside televisions. Then things start to get weird.    

First impression score: 81 - Mysterious

Personal comments: Personally, I've never played any of the Persona games, and my only previous encounter with Persona series was with Persona: Trinity Soul, which in my opinion isn't that good. But I know many people that claim Persona 4 is one of the best mystery/adventure game every made. So, I'm going to stay neutral for now and see how it develops.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

[New October 2011] Chihayafuru

Watch online:
Genres: Drama
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: Chihaya is a tomboy who find passion in the card game karuta tries to start a club in high school.    

First impression score: 78 - Is this a...sports anime?

Personal comments: Technically it's not a sports anime, but so far it exhibits all the same properties of a sports anime. Personally, I'm not very interested in "karuta", so, depending on how heavy it decides to go into the game, I may or may not be interested in watching the entire series.

[New October 2011] Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai

Genres: Comedy
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: A misunderstood transfer student, a girl who talks to "air friend" is starting the "neighbor's club" for people who in need of making friends.  

First impression score: 87 - Amusing

Personal comments: The scenario reminds me much of Toradora's setup: a misunderstood guy meets a bully girl. But that's probably as far as similarities goes. The original art work of the story is done by the same artist that did Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko. You can definitely tell the resemblance of the art work here right away.

[New October 2011] Kimi to Boku

Watch online:
Genres: Life
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: The story of four childhood friends now in high school.   

First impression score: 80 - Slice of Life Comedy

Personal comments: This is a very very light comedy drama about four friends who grew up together since kindergarten. As far as I can tell, it's more or less the same style of storytelling as Usagi Drop: an aimless plot flow that is designed to be charming and funny at the same time.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

[New October 2011] Working'!!

Watch online:
Genres: Comedy
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: The drama at Wagnaria diner continues.  

First impression score: 83 - Same ol' stuff

Personal comments: The sequel builds upon the same set of people and the same set of chemistry as previous season, which is still pretty fun. It would be nice to see something new though.

[New October 2011] Hunter x Hunter

Watch online:
Genres: Action / Drama
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: 12 years old Gon follows his father's steps to become a Hunter.  

First impression score: 81 - Quick Start

Personal comments: This supposedly be the remake of 1999 version of Hunter x Hunter since the manga was stalled soon after the original series aired. Since I never actually saw the 1999 version, I really couldn't tell you which one is better. So far, it looks somewhat...average. But at least I get to see why this is such a hyped up series.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

[New October 2011] Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon

Japanese title: 境界線上のホライゾン
Genres: Comedy / Action
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: People...fighting...with some sort of super a futuristic world.

First impression score: 68 - Random Fights, with big Boobies

Personal comments: Can I just say, "I don't get it"? Nothing made any sense. Oh, and for whatever reason, to me, I can't tell exactly what, but it's giving me a distinctly similar ring as Infinite Stratos, which as far as preconceived notion goes, it's a bad thing since IS is just crap. I'll let it ride a bit more before I make a decision whether to drop it, but as it is right now, I don't think it's going to stay for long.

[New October 2011] Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle

Japanese title: ファイ・ブレイン 神のパズル
Genres: Puzzle / Action
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: Some dude named Kaido is really good at solving puzzles. One day he received a quest to solve the most challenging puzzle of life, which could become the difference of life or death to him. 

First impression score: 83 - Interesting...for now

Personal comments: I think this is like one of those chess/shogi/mahjong anime where you just see the main character solving puzzles of the game at the same time making it as dramatic as possible.

Friday, October 7, 2011

[New October 2011] Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai!

Japanese title: 真剣で私に恋しなさい!
Genres: Comedy / Action
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: This is a story about a school, where samurai style battle is the method use for resolving conflicts between classes.

First impression score: 88 - Highly Amusing

Personal comments: Once a while, there is a random anime that jumps out of nowhere and completely surprises me. Apparently, this is one of them. I found myself speechless, at the same time, highly amused by what I saw in this opener episode. In short, I would describe it as "Modern Sengoku Basara mixed in with Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu with Female Heavy Casts". I think that ought to give you a very clear overview what to expect from this series. Basically, as far as I can tell, it's a bit more serious version of Baka to Test, but instead of being a fighter based game system, it's a Dynasty's Warrior or an RTS game system where capturing the King is the eventual objective. While it's screaming plagiarism, I think with proper execution, it would become a very interesting piece of work that is unique to its own. I'm actually quite interested to see what's to come.

[New October 2011] Fate / Zero

Watch online:
Genres: Action / Drama
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: The long awaited Fate/Stay Night.

First impression score: 90 - Conversation Heavy Yet Very Intense

Personal comments: This opener episode is very, I mean very conversation heavy, takes quite a bit amount of concentration to keep track of everything they're talking about. On top of that, being a double length did not help in absorbing the amount of information it's trying to through at you at once. But, on the other hand, it's nice to gather all that prerequisite at once so we didn't have to recall what happened in the previous episode to be able to re-construct the entire picture.

[New October 2011] C³

Japanese title: シーキューブ
Genres: Comedy / Drama
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: A cube is delivered to this high school dude. Overnight, it turned into a girl named Fear Kubric (nice name).

Familiar voices: Yukari Tamura (田村ゆかり) as Fear Kubric. It didn't take long before I recognized her voice as Togame from Katanagatari, since I recently just heard her voice. Another famous role she played is Rika from Higurashi series. Minori Chihara (茅原実里) as Konoha. She's probably best known as Yuki Nagato from Suzumiya Haruhi series, 
First impression score: 80 - Not Sure What's Going On

Personal comments: I have not a clue what's happening here, so I'm going to hold my opinion until I do.

[New October 2011] Bakuman 2

Japanese title: バクマン。
Genres: Drama
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: The story of Saiko and Shujin continuing to pursue the dream of becoming the no. 1 manga artist in shounen jump.
First impression score: 90 - Still Interesting

Personal comments: The first season is great, I'm expecting the same or even better from this season.

[Ended] Blood-C: Not Up to Par

I have to say Blood-C turned out to be something I totally was not expecting.While the story more or less took a 180 degree turn half way through the series that made it go from school life with a little monster fighting to monster fighting with a little school life, a very graphical and brutal monster fighting nonetheless. At some point however, I felt the brutality and blood is only serving the purpose to get a more restrictive rating (I have no idea how Japan rate their TV program, but this would at least be a TV-MA if not worse), or it's possible that CLAMP has just gone nuts in trying to make everything as gory as possible.

The flow of the story felt kind of strange. It's got not much going on for the first half of the series, then all the sudden dumped everything they were trying to tell all at once in the most gory manner. It felt very...unnatural. The worst part is after the entire series, we still don't have a clue what's going on in the big picture and we're still not exactly sure about Saya's true identify and how she relate to Saya from previous Blood series. Overall, it's just one huge hunk of confusing block with some highly disturbing scenes that show how bloody a human can be killed and decapitated. I was expecting better than that from CLAMP...

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 70 (Not much)
Comedy: N/A
Action: 89 (Gory)
Art/Animation: 82 (Nothing special)
Sound/Music: 84 (Not bad songs)
Character: 72 (Very little development)
Plot: 72 (Pathetic)
Ending: 50 (What the crap is that?)

Re-watch value: 35 (Its all blood and gore.)

Overall: 71 -  Barely passing

Recommendation: I think it had some potential, but they way they handled the story is just plain horrible.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

[Ended] Dantalian no Shoka: Good Story, Bad Execution

I liked the story, I liked the characters, I even liked almost every single episode as an arc by themselves, but somehow I just couldn't bring myself to like the anime as a whole. There seems to be some critical component missing to bring all the well crafted pieces together to form a good story overall.

The entire story is rather cryptic, cryptically artistic, or at least it's the impression it's giving me. They never fully explained who yomihimes are and exactly how they relate to each other. On top of that, who exactly is the Dalian's "Other self" that lives inside her bookshelf? What exactly happened in the last episode where Hugh was going back and forth between the two Dalians? There are way too many unexplained things to have the series end here. 

Come to think of it, the way Dantanlian no Shoka ended is actually very similar to the way first season of Asura Cryin' ended: it got cut off right around the time the story got interesting. In case you're not aware, the original author of Dantalian no Shoka is also the author of Asura Cryin'. It may not mean much to many people, especially since Asura Cryin' was not very well received by the mass, but personally, I was very fond of it. So, if they are in fact planning for a second season, it may still have a chance to redeem itself.

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 77 (Extremely slow)
Comedy: 74 (Not very funny even when it tries to be)
Action: 78 (Not much)
Art/Animation: 81 (I'm pretty fond of its style)
Sound/Music: 93 (Love the theme songs)
Character: 85 (Mysterious)
Plot: 70 (Incomplete)
Ending: 60 (Premature)

Re-watch value: 68 (Maybe catching more second round)

Overall: 76 - Far from complete

Recommendation: Dantalian no Shoka has a interesting concept, a pretty well constructed storyline, and some interesting characters. But it lacked greatly in terms of execution. If there is a second season to fill in what's missing, it may still turn out to be a decent series. As it is right now, C is the best grade I would give it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

[Ended] Kamisama Dolls: To Be Continued

At first glance, the story of Kamisama Dolls is a simple story. But as new characters being introduced and back stories being told, you'd realize this is not nearly as simple it it originally seemed. Most of the complication came from the massive role reversals--almost every new major character is introduced as a villain, followed by some background stories that would explain how they become of that. After knowing the reasons behind their act, it's actually somewhat difficult not to sympathize with them.

It may looked somewhat amusing early on, I find the out-of-place insertion of random comedic moment is not only annoying, but also breaks the rhythm of the ongoing plot flow. I'm not exactly sure what they're trying to achieve with this technique. It sacrifices the flow of the story in exchange for some not-so-good laughing points. In my opinion, that's not a good tradeoff.

Certain part of the story seems to ignore the fact that surrounding them, it supposed to be a normal society. Take the final battle for example, with it lasting that long in the middle of Tokyo in the middle of the day, how is it possible towards the end of the fight, the streets aren't packed with people and police, and helicopters aren't all over the place? Also, would anybody explain to me why all the sudden the kamisama dolls start to bleed?! Just where is the blood coming from?! I have to say the author didn't seem to be trying hard enough to let the story stay within our reality.

The ending of the series clearly indicates that the story of Kamisama Dolls is far from over. Although whether rest of the story would be told through TV screen or in forms of manga only is unclear. 

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 91 (Slowly build up)
Comedy: 80 (Out of place, out of sync)
Action: 89 (Pretty good "God" battle)
Art/Animation: 82 (Typical)
Sound/Music: 90 (Love the theme songs)
Character: 83 (Flip flop)
Plot: 92 (Gets complicated)
Ending: -- (It's not over yet)

Re-watch value: 65 (Maybe to catch some more details)

Overall: 85 -  First of many

Recommendation: Honestly, as much as I criticize it, I am actually quite fond of this story, especially when it gets massively complicated like this. It's really hard to give recommendations on this one because on one hand, there isn't anything too special, but on the other hand, it's actually somewhat of an interesting story that has set up some massively complex world that is ready to be explored.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

[Ended] Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu Ni: Comedy of the Season

Aside from the the slightly unsatisfactory slow start, in my opinion most of this second season is just down right brilliant. In fact, in most aspects, this second season outshines the original series by a fairly large margin. In additional to the summon battle, there are some in-depth character development and some outrageously hilarious and complex situations. On top of that, it went far and deep into the relationship conflict, not with just  a single triangle, but multiple triangle all tangled together. Combine that with some random rolling on the ground laughing caliber pop out acts of some characters, this is no doubt the recipe for

Comedy of the Season for July 2011 Season

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 97 (Outrageous)
Comedy: 95 (Brilliantly funny)
Action: 91 (Summon battle)
Art/Animation: 90 (Still takes a bit to get used to)
Sound/Music: 88 (Good)
Character: 88 (There are some depth to them)
Plot: 92 (Very clever arcs)
Ending: 90 (Meh...)

Re-watch value: 91 (Won't be nearly as exciting)

Overall: 94 -  Rolling on the floor laughing

Recommendation: If you want some good laugh, this is THE series to watch from July 2011 season. Just don't judge it with its first two episodes.

Monday, October 3, 2011

[Ended] Kaiji 2: Luck vs. Skill

Some say that luck favors the skilled. That in my opinion is largely reflected upon in this exciting second season of Kaiji.

While the main theme of this season is cheating, there is no lack of excitement watching people out cheat each other. Waiting to see the next episode of Kaiji is about one of the most agonizing thing in last six months, especially for the very last month of the pachinko showdown. It was filled with what  would call "expected surprises"--you know something going to happen, just not sure exactly how it's going to happen. This waiting and guessing game is the primary fuel of the excitements. Better yet, it even manages to throw one last curve ball when everything seems to be over.

Even though I was never fond of gambling, watching this reaffirms my position on never gamble, especially gamble games that is purely based on luck. It's something you'll never win. 

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 94 (Extremely dramatic)
Comedy: N/A
Action: N/A
Art/Animation: 81 (Still takes a bit to get used to)
Sound/Music: 90 (Just as exciting)
Character: 88 (Overdramatic)
Plot: 96 (Twists and Turns)
Ending: 90 (Comradery and backstabbing)

Re-watch value: 40 (Won't be nearly as exciting)

Overall: 91 -  Intriguing

Recommendation: While it's not nearly as deep into logical analysis as season one, this psychological thriller is still just as exciting. If you could overlook the strange art style, this is one of the most exciting show of this season.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

[Ended] Mayo Chiki: Cliche

Although it's extremely cliche, it's definitely one of the better cliche animes. Honestly, there really isn't much to say about this anime because it's just cliche after cliche. On top of that, despite the repeated hints, the invisible relationship tension among Kanade, Subaru, and Jirou never got to the bursting point, which, to me, is somewhat of a disappointment.

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 75 (Cliche)
Comedy: 75 (Cliche)
Action: N/A
Art/Animation: 82 (Cute)
Sound/Music: 75 (Typical)
Character: 82 (Cliche)
Plot: 76 (Very cliche)
Ending: 70 (Not really)

Re-watch value: 20 (Not necessary)

Overall: 78 - It's Cliche 

Recommendation: This is one of those series that you watch once and forget about it. But if you want to skip it all together, you're not missing much either.

[Ended] Hanasaku Iroha: Life Unfolds, Page at a Time

While there are a lot of cliche elements in the story, each and every single character felt real and original. Throughout the series, you see not only the main heroine slowly mature, but also the life stories unfold slowly along the way. In fact, as the story progressed, less and less you're able to identify a single main character. Instead, the entire crew takes on the center stage as the main focus of the story.

I have to say, very much like Ikoku Meiro no Croisee, this is one of those series that you have to allow it to "grow" on you, because it's a very very light drama that you can only see and feel the passion when you are completely immersed in the world it created. 

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 90 (Somewhat dramatic)
Comedy: 89 (Few, but interesting)
Action: N/A
Art/Animation: 86 (Typical)
Sound/Music: 88 (Eh...)
Character: 99 (That's where this story shines)
Plot: 92 (Very well designed)
Ending: 92 (On a very good note)

Re-watch value: 60 (Maybe)
Overall: 90 - It's Life 

Recommendation: Like most slice of life anime, you have to understand and embrace what the story tries to tell you. Without that understanding, or attempting to understand them, you'll never be able to fully appreciate it. 

[Ended] Natsume Yuujinchou San: Lighter Than Usual

The story of Natsume Yuujinchou is slowly evolving. It has gone from single episodic stories of monsters that wanting to retrieve their name from book of friends to a semi-serialized short stories of Natsume's life. In fact, majority episodes of this third season has nothing to do with the book of friends itself. Still, what makes Natsume Yuujinchou so attractive was never lost: a series of short stories that are designed to be heart touching.

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 92 (Light Drama)
Comedy: 89 (To certain extends)
Action: N/A
Art/Animation: 90 (Unique to its own)
Sound/Music: 93 (Great as usual)
Character: 91 (More in-depth development)
Plot: 86 (A bit lacking, but not bad)
Ending: 85 (More to come)

Re-watch value: 60 (Maybe)

Overall: 90 - The third installment is still as great 

Recommendation: In my opinion, you either love Natsume Yuujinchou or couldn't stand it, it's highly unlikely to feel anything in between.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

[Ended] Ro-Kyu-Bu: Loli Paradise?

Take a typical female sports anime, reduce the age of the characters by 10, you have the formula for Ro-Kyu-Bu. Almost half of the show are devoted to fan service--not just any fan service, loli fan service. In my opinion, it just make it so much more tasteless. But, there's no reason to dislike cute things, so I'm not going to ding them on that.

The layout of the story extremely formulaic, you can almost predict outcome of every single game, even how it would unfold. With that said, however, it's definitely not a bad anime: all characters are very well developed, and there is no lack of excitement even though the plot is completely formulaic. If you are into cute stuff like this, you might still like it.

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 77 (Formula Drama)
Comedy: 81 (To certain extends)
Action: 80 (Loli basketball)
Art/Animation: 80 (Loli)
Sound/Music: 80 (Not bad)
Character: 87 (Good development)
Plot: 74 (Highly predictable)
Ending: 80 (You can see that coming)

Re-watch value: 20 (Are you lolicon?)

Overall: 78 -  Lolicon

Recommendation: If you're a big lolicon fan, this is like your paradise. If you like formula sports anime, you probably would like this as well. Otherwise, if your queue isn't too long, it'll be an interesting one to watch.